China’s Tencent suspends registrations for WeChat, its popular app.

China’s Tencent suspends registrations for WeChat, its popular app.
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China’s Tencent suspends registrations for WeChat, its popular app.

China’s Tencent suspends registrations for WeChat, its popular app.

The Tencent booth at an internet conference in Beijing earlier this month.  Tencent's WeChat service dominates Chinese social media.
Credit…Tingshu Wang / Reuters

Chinese internet giant Tencent said on Tuesday it had temporarily suspended new user registrations for its hugely popular WeChat app, raising fears of further regulatory pressure even as it insisted the outage was the result. a technical upgrade.

Tencent said in a statement that the shutdown, which only affected new users and groups signing up to the app, would be completed in early August and was part of a patch to its security technology.

The timing of the suspension left investors uneasy, with growing fears that a regulatory rampage targeting the tech sector could severely affect Tencent, China’s largest internet company. By far the company’s most important product, WeChat dominates Chinese social media, allowing users to do everything from sharing photos and chatting to paying for coffee and bills.

Shares of Tencent closed nearly 9% lower in trading in Hong Kong. Overall, it’s been a tough day in Chinese equity markets, with the Hang Seng Index in Hong Kong down 4.2% and the Shanghai Composite down 2.5%, amid concerns over Beijing’s regulatory crackdown.

So far, Tencent has managed to avoid the worst of a nine-month string of Chinese government scrutiny of China’s high-flying tech sector that has led to multi-billion dollar fines, suspensions application services and falling stock prices for its rivals and as well as the companies in which it has invested. In the last month alone, Chinese authorities have demanded security reviews for internet companies seeking to list their shares overseas and have barred tutoring companies, many of which operate online, from making a profit.

Tencent’s worst problem with Beijing has come from a company it has invested in, the ride-sharing company Didi. Earlier this month, regulators opened an investigation into the company, ultimately ordering its apps out of mobile stores until the investigation is completed. The company’s shares are now down more than 40% from their IPO at the end of last month.

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In its statement on Tuesday, Tencent sought to minimize the suspension, but acknowledged the government’s hand, saying the security upgrade was “to align with all relevant laws and regulations.”

China’s market regulator separately took action against Tencent on Saturday, citing the country’s antimonopoly law. He imposed a small fine on the company, around $ 75,000, but also forced it to abandon the exclusive deals it had with record companies for its music business, arguing that an acquisition had given it. excessive market share in the sector. Shares of Tencent Music, which trades in the United States, fell 3% on Monday and lost another 4% in pre-market trading on Tuesday.

A pioneer in chat apps, games and social media, Tencent’s soft-spoken founder Pony Ma has a habit of keeping the company out of the spotlight and government scrutiny.

Yet the company itself is renowned in Chinese tech circles for its aggressive competitive strategies, using its massive social media platforms first built over a decade ago to crush its budding rivals. Recently, it took stakes in a constellation of newcomers to the internet, then tied its services to them in an attempt to compete with rival e-commerce giant Alibaba. It is not clear whether the paltry fine on its musical background and the silent security shake-up are any indications that it will go away or that the worst is yet to come.

Alibaba shows how bad things can go. In April, Chinese authorities fined the company $ 2.8 billion for monopolistic behavior. Last year, regulators suspended the listing of Alibaba’s successful sister company, Ant Group, days before its IPO, likely slashing its market share by more than $ 100 billion.

Henry M. Paulson Jr., former Secretary of the Treasury and Executive Chairman of private equity fund TPG Rise Climate.
Credit…Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

When Bono helped recruit Henry M. Paulson Jr., the former Treasury secretary and head of Goldman Sachs, to join TPG’s impact investing initiative, part of the musician-activist-investor’s speech was that a private equity fund focused on tackling climate change could be great. He was right.

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The TPG Rise Climate fund said on Tuesday it had raised $ 5.4 billion, which would make it the largest climate-focused fund in the world. The fund, which has TPG co-founder Jim Coulter as a managing partner, would rank as the 25th largest private equity fund out of more than 1,200 raised this year, according to PitchBook. It has a cap of $ 7 billion, so it could rise by the time it closes in the fourth quarter of the year.

Unusually, Rise Climate investors aren’t just the big pension funds. Investors include Apple, General Motors, Nike, FedEx, Honeywell and about three dozen other large companies, which collectively contribute about $ 1 billion. Companies rarely invest in private equity funds, so their participation underscores the demand from investors and businesses to find climate solutions.

Companies that have invested in the fund will likely have access to many companies that TPG invests in, helping them grow and potentially validating them. TPG said Rise Climate will focus on companies that can “enable carbon aversion in a measurable way”.

Earlier this year, Paulson told DealBook that in order for a sustainability-focused fund to survive, it needs to produce competitive returns compared to other private equity investments. “The market will not adapt to concessional or subsidized returns,” he said. He’ll have to prove the returns, but so far the scale doesn’t seem like a challenge.

A Mirai at a hydrogen pump in Torrance, California.  The lack of refueling infrastructure, as well as the high prices of cars, held them back.
Credit…Philip Cheung for The New York Times

Even as other automakers embraced electric cars, Toyota was betting its future on the development of hydrogen fuel cells – a more expensive technology that has lagged far behind electric batteries – with greater use of hybrid fuel cells. short term. This means that a rapid switch from gasoline to electric on the roads could be devastating to the company’s market share and bottom line.

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Over the past few months, Toyota has quietly become the auto industry’s strongest voice to oppose a full shift to electric vehicles – which its supporters say is key to tackling climate change, reports Hiroko Tabuchi in The New York Times.

Last month, Chris Reynolds, a senior executive who oversees the company’s government affairs, traveled to Washington for private meetings with Congressional staff and highlighted Toyota’s opposition to an aggressive transition to fully electric cars. He argued that gas-electric hybrids like the Prius and hydrogen-powered cars should play a bigger role, according to four people familiar with the talks.

The recent push in Washington follows Toyota’s global efforts – in markets such as the United States, Britain, the European Union and Australia – to oppose stricter emissions standards or fight against the mandates of electric vehicles.

Households comprising 60 million children received advance child tax credit payments in July to help them emerge from the pandemic.
Credit…Christopher Smith for The New York Times

The Biden administration has sent letters to families alerting them to payments this month that are part of an expanded child tax credit that aims to support Americans as they overcome the pandemic. Instead of claiming the benefit during tax time, eligible families receive half the credit, up to $ 300 for each child, in monthly payments that started in July and will end in December.

The payments are a welcome relief for many households – families with 60 million children received $ 15 billion in July – but there is some confusion as to what they can mean when it comes to filing tax returns. next year. Tara Siegel Bernard reports for The New York Times some of the top reasons taxpayers might want to take a closer look at potential tax implications or consider opting out of advance payments.

“Accepting credit now can be a lifeline for many, but it’s important that taxpayers know how it will affect them during next year’s tax season,” said Cari Weston, accountant and director. of Tax Practices and Ethics at the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants, a professional group.

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